The Ubiquitous Possibilities of the Laptop: Spanish University Students’ Perceptions
Keywords:University students, laptop, learning styles, ubiquitous, digital divide, media skill, digital literacy, prosumers
University classrooms have been taken over by a new type of student, the «plurimodalicts». This society is characterized by the different ways its students relate to ICTs. This article analyses where, how and for what a sample of 451 students from five Spanish public universities use their laptop computers. The study uses an incidental non-random cluster sample design. Data collection was conducted via questionnaire based on a five-point Likert scale. The questionnaire was divided into three sections: computer use; location and frequency of use of the device; and laptop functions and applications. The study concludes that «plurimodalicts» use their laptops to produce academic work, as well as for exchanging class notes and searching for information. The distance or direct learning methodology and the respondent's gender also determine laptop use for academic tasks, which is greater at distance learning institutions and is more prevalent among women than men. These devices are mainly used at home and, in the case of the younger respondents, also in university libraries. The laptop functions vary according to age group, and the device is mostly used for gaming and as a study tool by the youngest students..